Ask me what my favourite moment of 2021 was. Go on, ask me.
Oh, go on then I’ll tell you, if you insist.
It was, you’ll be surprised to learn, linked to the new 24 hour TV news channel, GB News.
I mean, let’s be honest, it turned out to be the best, if unintentional, comedy of the year, what with it’s dungeon-esque set, it’s poor lighting, almost entirely ill-informed right-wing hosts and guests. And in its short life so far – and Lawd knows how but it appears to still be going – it’s provided many golden moments, not least when co-founder and flagship present Andrew Neill jumped ship after a couple of weeks, or the moment when the notoriously anti-cancel culture programmers fired one of their presenters who dared to take the knee during one its shows. (I don’t know his name. It doesn’t really matter. Hermann, probably.)
No, the moment(s) I refer to are of course the telephone call-ins, where viewers were invited to call the show and discuss whichever topic was up for discussion (like “Who’s brownest, Polish or Turkish people?” or “What’s actually wrong with torpedoing refugees? It’s the only way they’ll learn”). This was a throwback to my youth, to Saturday Mornings and The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Going Live! and Saturday Superstore, and any fans of Matt Bianco, Five Star or popular culture generally, knows this format can lead to some legendary, if infantile, Bart Simpson-to-Moe-the-Bartender-type prank calls:
When I worked at Boots the Chemist in Cardiff, the store went through a major refit one summer. A crew of builders were brought in and a some of the blokes from “back shop” – i.e. guys to stoopid to be trusted with doing anything other than carry heavy things around – were commandeered to help them. There was a lady who worked on the switchboard/tannoy system who memorably fell foul to this particular prank. She fielded several calls one day from various parts of the building where the Back Shop Boys asked her to put a message out asking Mike Hunt to contact a certain extension, which she duly did, completely oblivious until after about the fifth time, when, with her pleas for Mr Hunt to respond getting more and more desperate, I think somebody finally pointed out to her what she was saying. I will never forget her pleading: “We still can’t find Mike Hunt. Please will Mike Hunt get in touch!” – it was a memorable, if juvenile, day, hearing that message boom down from the speakers located throughout the building for all to hear.
Speaking of people used to being the butt of a prank call, I turn now to the one and only Nigel Farage. Not only has he previously been on the receiving end of one of the greatest live-on-air prank calls ever:
…but the malaise and exodus of presenters from GB News, like the proverbial rats leaving the proverbial sinking ship, meant that Farage was suddenly offered a way back into the media for the first time since
he was given the elbow by LBC his LBC contract was not renewed, causing him to leave the radio channel “”with immediate effect” on June 20th 2020 (so, definitely not sacked then…).
He began presenting a Sunday morning political discussion programme, before moving to host a Monday to Thursday evening show, inspirationally and wittily entitled Farage. They missed a trick there, surely: keep hold of those old grubby sets from the launch days, call it Farage in a Garage and everyone’s happy, right?
Anyway, we should be glad of Nigel’s return to broadcasting, partly because we know where he is now and can keep our eyes on the shifty fecker, but mostly because it saved him from the ignominy of having to continue to tout his good name on Cameo, a service where celebrities – and Nigel – would record personalised video messages for a nominal fee.
Still, with all his broadcasting nous, there’s no way he’d ever make the same mistake as our friends over at GB News, right? Right?
Oh dear. That is rather unfortunate.
Still, at least he got his £25 fee (or whatever it was), to go with the £73,000.00 per annum pension he was happy to trouser from the EU he claimed to hate so much.
You could have got Paul Chuckle for £41.00. Just saying.
You’d think he might have done something more constructive during his downtime like….oh, just off the top of my head….the documentary about Julian Assange he claimed he was working on that time he was caught skulking out of the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Anyway, three tunes for the price of none: